Try to eliminate as many sources of unhealthy fats from your diet as you can. These are the saturates, found in fatty meat products such as salami and pork pies and full fat dairy products, such as cream and butter, and the trans fats found in many processed foods made using hydrogenated fats.
√ Do: Reduce your saturates intake by removing visible fat from meat (such as bacon rind), choosing lean cuts of meat (such as 5% fat minced beef) and switching to lower fat dairy products like semi-skimmed milk, low fat yoghurts and low or half fat cheeses.
Swap butter for a lower fat, healthy spread (and check the label to make sure it doesn’t contain any hydrogenated or trans fats). Or if you prefer butter, use it sparingly.
X Don’t: Eat too many cakes, biscuits, pastries, savoury snacks, fried food and fast food, when possible check labels to make sure the product does not contain any hydrogenated fats.
Keep your alcohol intake within recommended guidelines of no more than three to four units a day, this is regardless of body weight. It’s best to have a few alcohol-free days but you cannot ‘save up’ units to have in one go.
√ Do: Know how many units your drink contains, one unit is 8g or 10ml of alcohol.
X Don’t: Binge drinking but if you do, do not have any alcohol for at least 48 hours.
Healthy sperm relies on good intakes of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc and selenium.
Sources of vitamin C: Citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, melon, berries, peppers, green leafy vegetables, fruit juices
Sources of vitamin E: Wholegrains, vegetable oils, olives, sunflowers seeds, almonds, peanut butter
Sources of beta-carotene: Carrots, red and yellow peppers, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, mangoes, melon
Sources of zinc: Meats, oysters, shellfish, breakfast cereals, nuts and seeds, cheeses
Sources of selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna, liver, kidneys, eggs, mushrooms
A daily intake of at least 400 micrograms of folic acid when trying to conceive and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy greatly reduces the risk of giving birth to a baby with a congenital neural tube defect such as Spina Bifida.
√ Do: Remember to take your folic acid supplement every day.
Eat plenty of folate-rich (the natural form of folic acid) foods as well. Try to include plenty of dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and watercress, nuts, pulses, wholegrains and fruit juices.
Abstain from alcohol while you are trying to get pregnant.
Some fats are good for helping to conceive so try to include more of these into your diet.
√ Do: Include the monounsaturates found in olive oil rapeseed oil, nuts and seeds and their oils. Use these oils, or spreads made from these oils, in cooking and baking.
Add nuts and seeds to stir-frys, salads and breakfast cereals or have a small handful as a tasty snack between meals.
Eat more oily fish. Oily fish contains a type of fat good for your heart called long chain omega 3 fats. Choose from mackerel, salmon, trout, herring, sardines, pilchards and fresh tuna (canned tuna doesn’t count).
X Don’t: Eat too much; limit your intake to no more than two portions a week.
Fruit and vegetables
Eating more fruit and vegetables is especially important for people trying to conceive as they provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that keep the body healthy.
Try these ideas to boost your intake:
Throw a handful of dried fruit on your breakfast cereal
have a bowl of chopped fruit with you at work to nibble on through the day.
Drink a fruit smoothie to give you an energy boost between meals
Chop up some raw vegetables to have with a healthy dip, or to scatter onto a pizza or a jacket potato
Include plenty of salads and fresh or frozen vegetables with your evening meal
Be a healthy weight
Losing weight if you are over weight can increase your chances of conception. Eat a healthy balanced diet and be active everyday. See the section on weight loss for more information.